The recent heavy downpour in Gujarat is proving to be beneficial for two major standing crops - cotton and groundnut - further boosting their yields.

During the week ending September 25, Gujarat received 740 per cent more than normal rains, while the downpour in Saurashtra was 433 per cent excess triggering floods in the State.

Experts and trade sources believe that these rains will give a further fillip to the output of cotton and groundnut in the State.

“There will be a 10-15 per cent increase in cotton output and we expect production to be at 130 lakh-135 lakh bales from the earlier estimates of 115 lakh-120 lakh bales,” said Anand Poppat, Secretary of the Saurashtra Ginners Association.

Cotton is currently in the boll formation stages in Gujarat, where the acreage this year stands at 26.88 lakh ha, marginally higher than last year’s level.

The latest rains have provided a big boost for the cotton crop in Gujarat and Saurashtra.

“In fact, they are sort of a game-changer,” said K.R. Kranti, Director of the Nagpur-based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR).

He said the downpour would be good for cotton as a dry spell for about two weeks prior to the rains was proving to be slightly stressful for the standing crop.

As the crop was currently in the flowering to boll formation stage, any increase in soil moisture would help boost the yields, Kranti said.

In Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, the cotton crop is in the boll bursting stages, while in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the crop is currently in the flowering to boll formation stages.

The Agriculture Ministry in its first advance estimate has pegged the cotton crop size at a record 353 lakh bales of 170 kg each, while the Cotton Association of India has estimated it at 375 lakh bales.

Poppat said the rains would put off harvest and as a result, arrivals will be delayed by around 15-20 days.

Cotton arrivals start normally from early October in Gujarat.

M.B. Lal, Managing Director of Shail Exports Pvt Ltd, said the rains will help the crop size expand by 5-6 lakh bales in Gujarat alone.

“Though there will be some discolouration of the pods that have already burst, the rains will benefit the crop by boosting yields,” Lal added.

Groundnut, the other major crop in Gujarat, will also stand to gain from the recent rains.

“The rains will benefit the groundnut crop boosting yields,” said Vijay Data, President, Solvent Extractors Association of India.

Govind Bhai Patel of Rajkot-based GGN Research said though the quality of first picking may be affected, overall, it will help improve the yield.

vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 29, 2013)
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